Third Quarterly Legislative Update: 2013

November 25, 2013

Sarah Lamar discusses recent changes in employment law in her third quarterly legislative update for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

Legislation: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 2775)
Introduced: 10/16/13 (latest)
Status: Signed into Law
Purpose: The final version of the bill makes continuing appropriations to fund the federal government through January 15, 2014, and increases the debt limit through February 7, 2014, thus ending the government shutdown. Despite Republican efforts to the contrary, Obamacare was not defunded and the individual mandate was not delayed.
Comment: The shutdown was an embarrassment but a fascinating study in how our democracy does (or does not) function. PPACA is still the law of the land – at least until mid-January when the next “showdown” will probably occur.
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Legislation: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (H.R. 15)
Status: Referred to Committee
Purpose: Mirroring the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill passed in June (S. 744), House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill which includes a pathway to citizenship and monitoring of the border, among other provisions.
Comment: House Republicans have not taken up the Senate’s bill, in favor of piecemeal bills addressing discreet immigration issues like E-Verify and visas for skilled labor. Based on the SHRM GAC visit to our legislators in DC earlier this month, we think the likelihood of passage of any immigration bill that both houses of Congress can agree on is slim – at least in the near term.
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Legislation: Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (H.R. 2852)
Introduced: 7/30/13
Status: Referred to Committee
Purpose: To amend federal civil rights statutes to provide that an employee may proceed with discrimination and retaliation claims without showing that either discrimination or retaliation was the sole basis of a challenged employment action. If passed the bill would also reverse recent US Supreme Court decisions holding that an employee must show discrimination/retaliation was the “but for” reason for the adverse action in order to prevail.
Comment: Amending the law to broaden discrimination/retaliation claims would not be a positive development for employers and would make it easier for employees to succeed in suits under Title VII, the ADA and ADEA. Although the bill has bipartisan sponsors, the likelihood of passage in this Congress is very low.
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Regulatory Requirements: New OFCCP Rules
Effective Date: 3/24/14
Purpose: At the end of August, the OFCCP announced new rules under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 covering individuals with disabilities and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act which covers protected veterans. The final regulations include significant additional burdens for employers, to include achieving various numeric “goals,” such as 7 percent of all persons in each job group be individuals with disabilities. The new rules also mandate pre-offer invitations to self-identify and enhanced recordkeeping, among other requirements.
Comment: If you are a US government contractor/subcontractor, your Section 502 and VEVRAA AAPs will start looking a lot like your EO11246 plans and will require much more work than in the past.
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